Monday, July 10, 2023

Justice for the Poor (Proverbs 22:16, 22; 28:3; 29:7, 14)

"The righteous considers the cause of the poor" (Prov. 29:7).

The story of the fiery deaths of Latimer and Ridley during the reign of Queen Mary is well known among Protestant churches. These two non-conformist pastors paid the ultimate price for refusing to adhere to the doctrinal dictates of the throne. What is not as commonly known is Ridley’s burden for the poor—even during the final moments of his life. As the fire burned about him, he begged the queen to allow the poor men in his bishopric to keep their leases, which would become void by his death.

Ridley served as a model of Proverbs 29:7, “The righteous considers the cause of the poor.” Even as he faced an excruciating death, Ridley was concerned about “justice for the poor.” He knew the kind of oppression that awaited those in his bishopric. He anticipated the cruel scepter that would beat the backs of those who could not speak for themselves, so he spoke on their behalf.

The United States is in the midst of a political revolution. It has, in many respects, turned into a welfare state. Many Christians have become involved in the political system to try to tear down the structures of socialism that underpin the welfare machine. But in our zeal to restore freedom and individual responsibility, let us not forget our responsibility to care for the needs of the poor. Solomon wisely taught his son, who would be king, that God would judge any community that neglected the poor. Solomon taught that it is the Christian’s duty to speak for the defenseless, to oppose oppression of the poor, and to care for their needs.

While it is not right for the state to reach into the pockets of hard-working Americans and redistribute their wealth to the “poor,” it is the duty of every Christian to reach into their own pockets and help the poor. The family and the church should carry out this responsibility faithfully. Whether or not the welfare system is dismantled, the church and family should resume their God-ordained responsibility to help those burdened by poverty. The state should see to it that the poor are treated fairly in the courts, and Christians should model the spirit of generosity of our Lord, who “though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).

This Sunday give some extra money to your benevolence fund at church to help those who are in need in your local body. Also, contact a local ministry to the poor and ask what you can donate that week—food, clothing, household goods. If you have children, get them involved. Set a schedule to help the poor on a regular basis.